Texas bill

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SSN Staff  - 
Friday, July 1, 2005

A June Security Systems News Letter to the Editor alleged that the alarm industry and Texas legislators jeopardized homeland security by passing House Bill 2304 on police response to alarms. Answering uneducated opinions risks giving them credibility. However, when misleading statements about our industry are presented as fact, response is mandatory.
The fact is legislation passed in Texas two years ago was introduced by state retailers, not the alarm industry. The prior law severely limits police options. Bill 2304 gives police flexibility to meet local needs.
Bill 2304 gives police agencies the right to propose local ordinances limiting response to alarms. Some interests opposed the mandatory public hearings required. But, we live in a democracy and involving citizens is the American way.
The Texas alarm association leadership should be commended for its 10-year record of cooperation with Texas law enforcement. Both sides gave legislators important research enabling an updated law to be passed this session. Contrary to the writer's claim however, neither the industry nor police passed anything. The legislature, after careful deliberation, passed the bill. If Bill 2304 posed any threat to homeland security, legislators would have thoroughly debated the issue. That didn't happen.
The security industry recognizes the greatest value of alarms, their proven deterrent effect, is certainly diminished without police response. To assert, a minimally trained private guard can deter criminal activity to the same effect as response by a highly trained, sworn law enforcement officer is insulting to dedicated police professionals.
The alarm industry wholeheartedly agrees bona fide emergency situations demand top dispatch priority. We fully trust law enforcement to make appropriate decisions prioritizing dispatches during natural disasters or even terrorist attacks. We know the decisions they make every day are in the interests of public safety.
Each year, the industry implements additional alarm management policies and procedures to help monitoring centers validate police dispatch requests.
Secondly, the average number of alarm dispatches per system each year has decreased by 64 percent in the last eight years, even though the number of installed systems has doubled!
The security industry is committed to reducing unnecessary police responses to alarms. We accept our educational responsibility, particularly in light of misstatements about the alarm industry. Good policy-making requires valid information, so I'm compelled to set the record straight. I'm grateful to be working with top law enforcement leaders to keep America's communities safe.
Stan Martin
Executive Director
Security Industry Alarm Coalition